Trump Executive Order Would Punish Foreigners Linked To Election Interference

Trump walks on the South Lawn of the White House upon his return from Bedminster New Jersey to Washington U.S

President Trump signed an executive order Wednesday to impose sanctions on individuals and entities that meddle in US elections, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and National Security Adviser John Bolton announced in a conference call with reporters.

Bolton had previously warned that there were signs of election meddling from China, North Korea, and Iran, though he offered no specific evidence.

The order will put a range of agencies in charge of deciding if meddling occurred, led by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and including the CIA, the National Security Agency and the Homeland Security Department, the sources said.

With under two months until the first national U.S. elections since 2016, the Trump administration is outlining how it would respond to the kind of election meddling senior intelligence officials say could be coming. The order, not yet released, is meant as a deterrent against interference in the 2018 midterm elections.

Coats says the U.S.is not now seeing the intensity of Russian intervention that was experienced in 2016, but didn't rule it out.

While such powers already exist in the White House and US Treasury, Coats said the new order would set up an automatic and formal review, while giving Trump flexibility on what actions to take.

The sanctions authority would be the latest effort by the Trump administration to address to concerns raised by USA intelligence agencies that Russian Federation is seeking to interfere in the 2018 US elections after doing so two years ago. But these sanctions have apparently not deterred the Russian government and other countries with an adversarial relationship with the USA from maneuvering to affect the outcome of some 2018 congressional races, according to Coates.

It is understood that Russian Federation is not mentioned by name in the text, but United States officials named that country along with China, North Korea and Iran as most likely to try to sway USA elections.

Congress has been purposefully left out of the executive order drafting process, the official said, because the administration wants to preempt legislation being considered in the House and Senate that addresses similar issues. Sanctions authorized in the executive order include blocking of assets, transfer of property, United States investment in sanctioned companies, and restriction of travel. "Our focus is, going forward, that we have the integrity of the election in place and we have the measures in place to deter and retaliate if necessary".

Reuters first reported the existence of the draft executive order.

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